Showing posts with label Sexual Teaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sexual Teaching. Show all posts

Monday, January 9, 2023

Think twice before saying "Those lies don't affect me"

Lack of critical thinking has led 21st century Westernism into one of history’s most barbaric and irrational societies.  How, one wonders, did a sizeable percent of the population come to lose the ability to distinguish something so basic as identifying a boy versus a girl? So far gone are some as to celebrate—much less turn a blind eye to—the mutilation of children, in and out of the womb, against every semblance of reason, science, or mite of common sense. And those in a position to stop it do not.

Revisit 1973. The legally and morally bankrupt Roe v. Wade decision asserted that a “person…does not include the unborn.” This was despite reason, the science of fetal development presented at that time, as well as the lack of legal grounds for Roe. Its reckless force was subsequently negated a half-century later at Dobbs. In mis-defining a person, Roe failed to account for the evidence, appealing instead to the behavior of more ancient generations when natal science was more obscure. Today, the science is even clearer as to the uniqueness and living quality of an individual person from the moment of conception. 

No industry is more dependent on lies than abortion. It is infected by a legion of dishonest euphemisms. Some acquiesced to its central lie that the unborn is not a life. Some did so under the pretense of it “not affecting” them. Many accepted the specious lie that abortion is “between a woman and her doctor” making a “medical” decision only about her. These lies before and since Roe have led to the bloody sacrifice of over 63 million innocent children and counting.

More recently, we saw the 2015 Obergefell decision, which redefined—without cause—marriage itself. The court incorrectly claimed that a “marriage” not only could occur between two people of the same sex but was “equal” to and the “same” as the marriage that occurs between a man and woman. The public was bullied or fooled into accepting the lie that a man could be swapped out for a woman and still have the “same” categorical arrangement. And, as with abortion, how many times did we hear someone justify their desire to go along with such an irrational idea by claiming the matter “did not affect them”? What two other people do is “their own business,” the masses said, oblivious to the Trojan Horse of malleable meaning they let through the door. 

The procession of the Trojan horse by Tieppolo
Detail from The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, ca 1760 (Wikimedia Commons)
 

The devil’s table was set. The truth was up for grabs, insofar as the masses understood it. If the meaning of a person was changeable on a whim, or if the uniqueness of a man and woman was changeable on a whim, what other things could the world’s overlords “change” without cause? The public was already brainwashed into staying out of any such debate unless they perceived an immediate personal impact. They were brainwashed, not only to ignore any immediate immoral harm occurring among others, but to avoid thinking of any other variables or trajectories that changing unchangeable definitions would beget.

And here we are. 

  • Many today don’t know what a boy or girl is. A supreme court justice famously played along by pleading ignorance as to what is a woman during her confirmation hearings. To foster this confusion, the American Psychological Association redefined “Gender identity disorder” to “Gender dysphoria.” The redefinition “shifted the emphasis in treatment from fixing a disorder to resolving distress over a mismatch.” Victims of this often-learned confusion include small children who haven’t the intellectual nor biological foundation to know otherwise. And it is no secret how many children have been coerced with lies to mutilate themselves in the name of denying the reality before them. A landmark lawsuit is currently ongoing in Cole vs. Kaiser Permanente on the damages caused after doctors are said to have denied her parents the option to treat her condition as a mental disorder. Many who now regret “gender transitioning” surgeries have expressed lack of care by the medical industry. Calling a boy a girl, or vice versa, is not only wrong, it is 180 degrees wrong. It is maximum wrongness.  It is a fruit of dishonest redefinitioning.
  • On a related note, the American Psychological Association also recently published a “guideline” that redefined masculinity. Their statement declared that boys raised by fathers to be traditionally masculine were a threat to society. It referenced the disproportionate number of violent crimes committed by males in the context of “socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own.” However, as clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson observed:

“[I]t’s...a lie, scientifically... To indicate, as the writers have, that it is the socialization of boys and men by men that is producing both a decrement in the personal mental health of males and females and a threat to the social fabric is not only to get the facts wrong, but to get them wrong in a manner that is directly antithetical to the truth. ... [I]t is this simple fact that is absolutely damning to the claims in the APA document. What kind of families produce violent young men? Fatherless families. The pernicious effect of fatherlessness is exceptionally well-documented. … If it is fatherless boys who are violent, how can it be that masculine socialization produces harm both to mental health and society?”

  • In a more strictly political example, the current U.S. Administration declared redefined the criteria of a “recession.” A recession was previously known as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product. Despite this having occurred after the second quarter of 2022, an Administration official denied that a recession had begun, manipulating voters into believing their finances were in better shape than they were.
  • In 2022, two South Carolina judges attempted to redefine terms for the medical industry by denying the existence of a “heartbeat” in the unborn at six weeks gestation. They are obviously wrong, as multiple peer-reviewed studies reveal a baby’s heartbeat scientifically observable at an average of 110 beats per minute at six weeks. The judges attempted to redefine this observable pulsating phenomenon as something different than a heartbeat. The goal was to sanitize the idea of an abortion. 
  • In December, a Virginia restaurant attempted to redefine, among other things, the concept of “safety.” The Family Foundation had booked a private room at the restaurant. Less than two hours before their reservation, the restaurant called to say the Family Foundation was not welcome to dine there. The restaurant apparently had discovered that the Foundation was pro-life and pro-marriage. In a statement to the media, the restaurant said they refused service to the Foundation because allowing them to eat there would make the restaurant workers “unsafe.” Of course, this assertion may be best described as a hallucination. Whatever imaginary threat the restaurant owners perceived did not actually exist. The bigotry in their reaction was amplified when they stated they prided themselves “on being an inclusive environment for people to dine in” while simultaneously refusing to serve food to pro-life, pro-marriage patrons. Injustice against pro-life, pro-marriage individuals was justified by “redefining” danger. Indifference to these sorts of lies places innocent persons at greater risk in society.

These are but a miniscule sample of the redefinitions inverting reality, imposed on the masses daily. 

In the fourth century, St. Gregory of Nyssa pondered whether to remain silent in the face of lies. At first, he thought silence best. But, after discussion, he understood the injury that “succeeding” lies would cause:

I thought it right, indeed, in view of the continuous and varied effort of our enemies against us, to keep silence, and to receive their attack quietly, rather than to speak against men armed with falsehood, that most mischievous weapon, which sometimes drives its point even through truth. But you did well in urging me not to betray the truth, but to refute the slanderers, lest, by a success of falsehood against truth, many might be injured. (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Trinity, ca 375 A.D.)

There is a devilish pressure to ignore societal lies on the grounds that they are someone else’s business. Yet lies unchecked are a virus. Lies beget lies. St. Paul warned about persistence in sin and how it leads to “greater and greater iniquity.” (Rom. 6:19) Endorsing lies is primarily an immorality and damages our very souls. For this reason alone, we should not accept them for ourselves nor others. As well, endorsing lies is also a blueprint for spreading more and more social sickness to every corner of the culture, from the elderly to the young to the unborn. We should not pretend lies as these are someone else’s business and do not affect us. Investment in lies as these have already produced untold poisonous returns to the masses.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

When Bishops embrace politics over pastoring

In January 2019, the diocese of Covington Kentucky, under direction of Archbishop Roger Joseph Foys, issued a condemnation one day after a viral video appeared to show high school boys harassing an older man at the March for Life in Washington. The archdiocese called the students' behavior "opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person" and issued an apology to the actual aggressor. The media had already politicized the issue, emphasizing race, and showing only a specious snippet of video that belied the story. The light-speed reaction of the archdiocese has left them embarrassed as subsequent footage of the incident revealed the older man to have been the aggressor. Even though the archdiocese openly condemned the students absent of further investigation, their most recent statement said it is "important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate." Lexington Bishop Stowe originally called the students a, "contradiction of the very reverence for human life that the march is supposed to manifest." Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz tweeted a condemnation of what he claimed were "the shameful actions of the Covington Catholic High School students." Other bishops made similar premature condemnations. They wittingly or not worked in concert with an unethical media, hostile to the Church and the pro-life movement. And, once again, they showed themselves perfectly capable of crying out in unison when politically popular, but painfully mute when needing to champion unpopular, but true, teachings of the faith.

In February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich responded in a week to publicly condemn and sanction a priest who burned a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung in his parish. Meanwhile, after two priests in Cupich's archdiocese were arrested for committing a public sexual act with each other, Cupich said he would wait for an investigation. Neither originally, nor over four months later, has any public condemnation come from Cupich. Cupich is also the Archbishop who responded within 48 hours to the first Viganó letter about clergy abuse by say saying the Pope should focus on "other things" and that addressing the letter was to go down a "rabbit hole." Vexingly, the Pope still appointed Cupich to the organizing committee of the February abuse synod.

In June 2018, news media drew attention to the temporary separation of family members crossing the southern U.S. border while screening occurred. Although these detainments were temporary and complicated by such matters as child sex traffickers often posing as a child's parents, multiple bishops, in a unified, simultaneous voice, condemned the policy in the harshest language. Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger referred to the practice "In light of the canonical penalties that are there for life issues" and suggested the hierarchy consider "canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved in this". San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said, "To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral (and) evil."  Brownsville Archbishop Daniel Flores said, "separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy." Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said, "The forced separation of children from their parents, which is underway now at our southern border, is an unconscionable violation of human dignity." Chicago Archbishop Cupich also spoke out immediately (He did not wait for further investigation as with his priests in Feb. 2018), stating the policy was "nothing remotely Christian, American, or (sic) morally defensible..." These are just a small sample. But whatever one thinks of these detainment policies (the policy was since deauthorized), if the bishops were truly concerned about damage to families, where is their massive condemnation about ongoing issues that are destroying legions of families, in numbers no border detainments will ever approach? Where are the bishops' unified and sobering statements about family destroyers such as divorce, cohabitation, pre-marital sex, or contraception? These things have created a hemorrhage of destruction in the institution of the family. Obviously, the bishops have shown they have the ability to issue strong condemnations in a unified voice. Why not conduct a communication blitz on these other matters instead of something politically charged that does not even constitute objective immorality?

Jesus Chasing the Merchants from the Temple by Quentin Matsys, 16th cent.
Public domain image acquired from Wikimedia Commons.
These incidents are some among many examples. Meanwhile, scandals among the hierarchy themselves persist. The faithful are left vexed. Stories of infiltration abound. Neither Pope Francis nor any other named bishops have been able to rebut the content of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó's letters detailing cover-up of sexual deviance within the Church. Pope Francis has neither replied to the 2016 dubia issued by four cardinals on the matter of Communion. Stories of priests teaching heterodoxy from the pulpit persist. Bishops consistently react fast when making popular political condemnations, but react glacially slow or altogether silently when upholding Church teaching or when condemning ills coming from their own ranks. The current state of bishops is unacceptable.

What are the faithful to do? Foremost, there is prayer. Another consideration some Catholics have suggested is withholding Sunday giving in favor of other faithful Catholic and non-profit organizations. In this scenario, dioceses are withheld funds until the true doctrines of the faith are promoted and opponents from within the Church are silenced or expelled. However, there is opposition to that view, such as from Catholic radio host Al Kresta from November 2018. Phillip Lawler, who has been instrumental in journaling scandal within the Church, also has suggestions in his recent book, The Smoke of Satan: How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful...and What Can Be Done About It.





Further resources:
Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones, Psychology Today (2011)
Unprotected movie, Don Johnson Evangelistic Ministries (2018)
Children falling short in school? Blame parental break-ups, Nicole M. King and Bryce J. Christensen (2018)
Kresta in the Afternoon, Jan. 25, 2019, hour 1, interview with Phil Lawler (on Covington Catholic incident)
The Patrick Madrid Show, Jan. 21, 2019, hour 1 (on Covington Catholic incident)

Monday, December 31, 2018

5 modern lies sold as truth

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

Detail of Prophet Isaiah in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling.
Acquired from Wikimedia Commons.


Today's culture, in plain sight, successfully sells lies that are often 180 degrees opposite the truth.

Contraception
Birth control is "medicine," claimed Hillary Clinton in 2017. Planned Parenthood has called it "basic health care." Yet contraceptives used to prevent birth are the opposite of medicine—for their end goal is to cause a normally functioning body to malfunction. Birth control more closely resembles the medical definition of Poison: a substance that "may cause structural or functional disturbance."

Read more in earlier TCV blog post: "Birth control" is not medicine.

Abortion
"It's my body!" shouts the 21st century feminist of enwombed offspring. Yet, in reality, the fertilized egg—the zygote—has its own unique DNA, distinct from the mother. A mother thus advances the culture's lie when she refers as "her body" to that which is not her body.

Additional resources: Science is clear: Each new human life begins at fertilization (Sarah Terzo, 2013); 41 Quotes From Medical Textbooks Prove Human Life Begins at Conception (Terzo, 2015); The Science About When Life Begins Makes Pro-Choicers Look Terrible (Dr. Donna Harrison, 2018)

Marriage
During the years leading up to the 2015 gay "marriage" ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were three common slogans used to advance the idea of gay "marriage": "love is love," "same love," and "marriage equality."

Dialogue on this issue was minimal and even discouraged. Then-First Lady Michelle Obama declared: "In a country where we teach our children that everyone is equal under the law, discriminating against same-sex couples just isn’t right. So, it’s as simple as that."

Although the state declared marriage redefined by stroke of a pen, marriage was not the only thing their verdict "redefined." The censoring of discussion disguised this. Notice how each of the three slogans advanced the idea that men and women are interchangeable with no difference. One ingredient is equal to another. This was among the undiscussed, dangerous side effects of the formulations: "same," "equal," "A is equal to B." These were the Orwellian newspeak that tickled many ears.

The idea that Man+Man = Man+Woman is absurd on its face. The sale of this idea that men and women are interchangeable variables is also contrary to science, which shows the unique qualities brought to parenthood by mothers and fathers, as well as the obvious family structure innate in the male and female union. Any children raised in such arrangements are deprived of one or more of their mother and father. The idea also paved the way for society's next chapter, discussed below (Sex/Gender), in denying the significant qualities between males and females.

Additional Resources: Reengineering the Family (Heather Mac Donald, 2010); How Re-Defining Marriage Harms Society (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, 2012); Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, 2015); and additional social science resources in the endnotes at Same-Sex “Marriage”: The Victims. The Children (2015).

Sex/Gender
Modern transgenderism: It is the idea that a man can "become" a woman (or vice versa) either based on his own feelings and/or after a surgery alters some of his body parts. A significant portion of society is at the point where it cannot tell the difference between a boy and girl and even believes there are a multitude of sexes beyond male and female. This is the hypnotic effect that abusing truth has created.

The idea of switching "genders" is again contrary to science:
In human embryos, the SRY gene encodes a unique transcription factor that activates a testis-forming pathway at about week seven of development. Before this time, the embryonic gonad is "indifferent"... (Genetic Mechanisms of Sex Determination, Nature Education 1(1):25, 2008)
Instead of simply admitting a boy with xyz feelings is still a boy who has these feelings, society fosters the lie that he's not a boy at all, or that somehow a new "gender" can even be created as a result of sexual proclivities.

But calling a boy a girl and a girl a boy is a dangerous inversion of reality that has led to regretful surgeriesharmful use of puberty blockers in children, and other personal and public damage, not to mention the instability caused to any other truth. In "redefining" marriage and what is a boy and girl, society has paved the way to other redefinitions, such as the recent effort to rebrand pedophilia under the moniker "minor attracted person (MAP)." The trajectory will result in future "redefinitions" of parenthood and more as previously discussed in 5 difficult issues human cloning will cause.

Additional resources: Transgenderism: Semantic contagion or biological fact? (Dr. Anne Hendershott, 2018); The Genetics of Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior (NCBI, 2010); The myth of gender-neutral parenting (Dr. Deborah Soh, 2017)

Morality
As previously detailed at length, modern atheists such as Sam Harris, Gad Saad, or Patricia Churchland have attempted to explain morality strictly as a function of biology and evolution. Harris goes so far as to say morality exists even though he believes free will does not.

But these efforts are as misguided as they are ironic. By assigning the label "morality" to biological instincts or automatic actions devoid of free will, morality's necessary feature of obligation is stripped from the equation. By reducing man to an automaton or animal obeying euphoric bodily chemicals, these atheists actually make the argument that morality doesn't exist.



Conclusions
The significance of these lies is not something to take lightly. They are prone to cause damage, whether to public policy, the innocent baby, the fatherless child, the sexually confused, or the very foundation of moral truth. We end with a relevant quote from a saint:
[Y]ou did well in urging me not to betray the truth, but to refute the slanderers, lest, by a success of falsehood against truth, many might be injured. (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Trinity, ca 375 A.D.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Revisiting Fr. John Corapi in light of current Church scandal

Detail of Fr. John Corapi from
his "Heaven & Hell" CD collection
THE CURRENT SCANDAL
Fr. John Corapi was considered among the greatest Catholic preachers of the 1990s and early 2000s. He left public ministry in June 2011.1 I blogged about his departure back then, including this timeline of events. A statement from a priest in his order claimed his behavior was "unbecoming of a priest." Rumors abounded that he engaged in improprieties with one or more women and possibly returned to drugs, from which he escaped decades ago. Fr. Corapi argued the canonical process was flawed, stating that his canonical and other attorneys concluded he "cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process."

Today, the Church faces a renewed look at the modern sex abuse scandal. More prominently figuring in coverage is that 80% of victims have been male and post-pubescent.  This is consistent with data reported in 2004. Although this does not mean simply being "gay" makes one a predator, it does mean those who are gay and predatorial are active in the Church.

Reigniting the current attention to the scandal was the August 22, 2018 letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. In the letter, he describes a network of pro-homosexual and/or heterodox clergy having risen to key positions in the Church throughout the decades.

Viganó's account is striking because of the high position within the Church from which it comes. But it is not unique among clergy itself. A scathing exposition on the homosexual subculture and powerful clergy blocking faithful clergy was written in 2012 by Fr. Dariusz Oko. In June, journalist Rod Dreher recounted his efforts to break the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick scandal as far back as 2002, but those with information would not go on record. A popular homily on August 26 by Fr. Robert Altier expounded on infiltration dating back to the early 20th century, as described in such places as the famous book AA-1025.

There are many other accounts describing the scandalous behavior of infiltrating culprits, roadblocks encountered throughout the decades by orthodox priests, and more. Heterodox clergy are at the highest levels. Faithful clergy are persecuted and threatened. With all this in mind, let's return to Fr. Corapi.

I recently listened again to a number of Fr. Corapi's talks from the 90s and early 00s. Whatever the truth about his departure, his talks were among the most popular the Church has heard in recent memory. They were candid, typically delivered passionately, truthful, and backed firmly by magisterial teaching. If you have old CDs or MP3s, I would recommend giving them a listen again. His messages from back then are largely just as relevant today.

FATHER CORAPI'S WORDS
Let's review several excerpts from Fr. Corapi's talks in light of what has been described about Church scandal today. Emphasis mine:
I sat in a meeting not that long ago with a number of bishops and theologians. I sat between two bishops. The one on my left said, “Well, we’re wasting our time in this meeting.” It was on moral theology. I said, “Why is that, Bishop?” He said, “Well, until we come out and publicly denounce Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae, we’re wasting our time.” Yeah, the Bishop said that. To my face. I didn’t read it on the front page of The Wanderer. He said it! My hearing was fine. I made him repeat it three times to make sure. The one on my right said, “I don’t think we can talk much about formation of conscience, you know, it’s in the catechism, but, you know, we have to tell our people they have to form their conscience to the world around them.” What? What do you mean by that? “Well, we’re not the only ones with a good idea. We have to be up to date and people of our times.” “What do you mean, that if the culture says that it’s all right to commit mortal sin, we should form our conscience in accord with that?” He said, “Oh, mortal sin, I doubt there is such a thing.” Now if you’d ever confront one of them with this, they’d deny it to your face. We tolerate evil men! And watch out, the consequences are about to come home to roost.  ...  (MP3)
Those self-styled apostles, who are nothing of the sort, you found that they don’t really teach what the Church teaches, however clever their language, however subtle their heresies. Let me tell you something, and I’m saying it straight out. There are two Churches right now. The right one and the wrong one — God’s Church and Satan’s assembly. (Apocalypse Now #2 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
A religious sister I knew for years, forty-some years professed in an active order, marginalized because she was faithful to the Church. Still wore her religious habit. Thought it was odd that the only novice they’d had in years was about to be professed, and she wasn’t invited. She also thought it odd that the ceremony was to take place on what she thought was the vigil of All Saints Day—midnight, Halloween in other words. She hid in the choir loft. What she saw can’t be repeated. It involved witchcraft and lesbianism. She confronted the superior the next day and was told “If you ever say a word, we’ll put you in a mental hospital. And it will be your word against ours, and you won’t win.” She came back from the school she had taught in for thirty years to find her suitcases in the parking lot and the locks changed. Her reward for forty-some years of religious profession. And a good lay woman had to come and take her to live with her. (Apocalypse Now #3 of 4, 1994) (MP3)
I sat in a room having dinner with a group of 10 priests two months ago. After dinner, one of my brothers said, “What do you think of the new encyclical on moral theology?” [probably Veritatis Splendor from August 1993] They didn’t know me. I was a stranger there. One of the priests responded, “He’s got some nerve trying to tell us what to do.” And it escalated. Like sharks smelling blood working themselves up into a frenzy. And the hatred that radiated out of that room would frighten you. And I’ve seen it for years. ... (MP3)
At a recent convocation of priests in a diocese in the northeast, [to] get together to discuss the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the main speaker, who had 90% of the time, said in a nutshell, “Don’t pay too much attention to it, boys.” And the bishop sat there. “Don’t believe it literally. Because we don’t believe that anymore. The parts on moral theology—ugh! They talk about sin! Never talk about sin. Talk about immature behavior. Talk about a psychological deficiency, but never mention sin. We don’t want to give anyone a guilt complex.” This is what’s going on in your Church and mine, the Bride of Christ. But the Bride of Christ is indefectibly holy and beautiful. But at the moment, She’s being attacked—in a sense raped. That is not alright with me, nor should it be with you. (To Love the Church is to Love the Lord, 1993) (MP3)
I know many places right now where a lie is being taught that there is no such thing as original sin. That is a heresy. In case you didn’t know it, you’re hearing it here. Heresy. Jesus Christ is divine without any question. That’s an old heresy that’s been recycled—Arianism. He is not merely human. He is fully God and fully man, true God and true man. The Blessed Virgin Mary is immaculately conceived, preserved without sin from all eternity in virtue of her son’s passion, death, and resurrection. Virgin before, during, and after birth. Dogma. Doctrine. Without faith in that it is impossible to please God. Why? Because He’s revealed it to us. We have a better idea than God? I think not. We smarter than God’s Church? I think not. And it is nothing but unmitigated callous arrogance to think that we know more than what’s been revealed. And there are millions, possibly, who fall into that category. And you can go in many diocese and see it taught at the highest levels, from the chancery office down, including in our seminaries. And then you wonder why Father has a problem. Then you wonder why Father has a moral problem. Then you wonder why Father isn’t feeding you with the substantive doctrine of truth. (The Truth is a Matter of Life and Death, 1993) (MP3)
Very often a moral problem is behind a doctrinal problem. Why is it that they can’t see that artificial contraception, homosexual behavior, just isn’t right? In some cases, part of their life. And how are you going to preach against it, unless you convert, change your life? (Attack on Truth, ca 2004) (MP3)
OBSERVATIONS
Notice in the first story about the meeting with bishops, the bishops condemn the papal encyclical on human sexuality, Humanae Vitae. Fr. Corapi proceeds to then describe something like a competing subculture when he refers to "God's Church and Satan's assembly." Notice how Fr. Corapi describes teachers in the Church who try to make "conscience" the primary driver of "morality" instead of Church teaching.

We still see this. For example, in February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich stated in February 2018 that conscience must be the primary driver of morality instead of universal Church precepts. His statements remind us of the idea of the "dictatorship of relativism" then-Cardinal Ratzinger warned about in 2005. In September, Cupich swiftly sanctioned a priest for burning a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung at his parish. Of Viganó's letter on Church sex scandal (which named Cupich), Cupich quickly called the allegations going down a "rabbit hole," made accusations of racism, and insisted the Church has a "bigger agenda" to worry about. Cupich also endorsed the book of and invited to speak a Jesuit priest who regularly promotes homosexual behavior, has referred to a man's same-sex partner as "husband," and hopes so-called "married" same-sex couples will kiss at the sign of peace in the same way married couples do. These are just examples of many occasions in which Archbishops, bishops, and priests deviate from Church teaching and deceive the laity.

Notice Fr. Corapi describe how a heterodox priest said to "never talk about sin." In Cupich's entire February talk, sin is mentioned once only when he quotes Pope Francis dismissing the idea that people in "irregular" relationships are necessarily in mortal sin. The concept of sin is supplanted with the notion of "accompaniment," which is mentioned in some form 18 times. He describes what includes sinful arrangements only as different types of "situations" some 10 times.

Notice in Fr. Corapi's story about the nuns and witchcraft, the faithful sister was threatened with mental rehab. A September 25 blog post by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf describes the frequency of this same ploy used against orthodox priests.

Notice in the other stories the attack on authentic doctrine that often comes with corruption and moral problems. According to Viganó's now-famous report, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was instrumental in Cupich's ascension to Archbishop. And McCarrick, as is now well-known, has been a central figure and culprit in the Church's sexual scandal for decades. Doctrinal and moral corruption, as Fr. Corapi described, often work in concert. Exceptions are not strong objections. If a doctrinal error is deliberately perpetrated by a clergyman who has not committed sexual scandal directly, he still, by virtue of diluting the truth of the faith, fosters the belief that Church morals are malleable.

REVISITING THE DEPARTURE
Many voices have now risen to describe the devil's vicious tactics to silence orthodoxy and promote immorality in the Church. It is not publicly known what was the true fate of Fr. John Corapi and why he ended his ministry. We know his popularity and willingness to call out heterodox bishops no doubt made him a thorn in the sides of infiltrating powers. We know in his younger years he lived a sinful life, including cocaine use and spending a year in a mental hospital. What happened with him in 2011 could range anywhere from him relapsing into sin or an infiltrating subculture of enemies plotting his demise. He could have succumbed to his old ways, or, in light of his past stay at a mental hospital, he could have been threatened by an infiltrating subculture with mental rehab as were many other priests.

He did start a website, since closed, under the name John Corapi minus his "Father" title for a brief period after departure. Criticism abounded even among faithful Catholics that he acted in disobedience no matter what happened. The entire affair seemed chaotic. It is my opinion that the quality of his talks particularly lost some sense of candidness and zeal somewhere in the mid-later 2000s. But, before that, he was arguably the best preacher of his time.

In June 2011 the Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Rene Henry Gracida, stated: "I believe that he is justified in not seeking to clear his name through a canonical process; at the present time such processes are very flawed in most dioceses." In July 2011, a since-deleted post from the webmaster of Fr. Corapi's order, SOLT, cautioned against believing Fr. Corapi and that "Church authorities ... have been trying to bring him in for years."

What we do know is that Fr. Corapi's earlier talks often spoke candidly of a poisoned Church, including the hierarchy. We know that his theology was firmly grounded in orthodox truth. In re-listening to his stories, we can see that they are consistent with many others who have since come forward to describe improprieties, heterodoxy, and infiltration in the Church.

STAY VIGILANT
What we can learn from Fr. Corapi's and others' accounts from years past are clues to what attention we should give to what warning signs. He warned of an overlap of doctrinal and moral deviance. We must be alert to linguistic snakery that gives way to doctrinal and moral corruption. It may be necessary to intensify sanctions regardless of whether a clergyman deviates even slightly from a dogma or commits grave sin. In another talk, Attack on Unity, Fr. Corapi proposed the notion that a lack of understanding in Thomistic metaphysics and philosophy has resulted in a "downhill" trend in theology, because many teachers fail to understand the meaning of "being," for example. Many are calling for a return to a more traditional liturgy and traditional Church decor and iconography. If doctrinal and moral faults are as intertwined as they appear, then the Church's solution to this crisis must include doctrinal correction in addition to a systemic correction of checks and balances. If it takes a soft inquisition to purge any defiant, unbelieving clergy, so be it.

Remember the famous quote from then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1969:
The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. ... As the number of her adherents diminishes...she will lose many of her social privileges. ... But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. (Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and Future, 1969)
Time will tell if the Spirit wills such a purgation to shrink the Church and raise it again to "great power." We must pray for wisdom and invoke Our Lady, the angels, and saints.

Decades have passed while several voices have cried out in the wilderness as did Isaiah or Jeremiah during tumultuous times for God's people. The time for purification of this scandal is overdue.



1Fr. Corapi's current whereabouts and status are difficult to ascertain. I sent an inquiring message to his former order, SOLT, on Monday, Sept. 24, but have not received correspondence as of Oct. 3, 2018.

Related reading:
St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson's Truth Overruled on marriage between a man and woman.
Austin Ruse on the science of fatherless or motherless children.
Dr. Jeff Mirus: In denial about not ordaining homosexuals?
Phil Lawler: The McCarrick scandal & the gay lobby: a problem the bishops won’t address
Dr. Janet E. Smith: McCarrick, dissent from ‘Humanae vitae’, and the ‘sensus fidelium’.
Rod Dreher: Voice of Conscience = Voice of God, a critique of Arch. Cupich
The Catholic Voyager: Psychology of a pedophile

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why do Christians eat bacon?
A look at natural law.

THE ACCUSATION
In recent times, there have been multiple accusations by opponents of Christianity that Christians are hypocrites for doing such things as eating bacon when it is declared forbidden in the Old Testament (Lev. 11:7-8). Particularly, the accusation includes the notion that Christians inconsistently choose which OT precepts to follow. One flow chart circulating social media claims to "destroy" Christians for appealing to the Bible regarding homosexuality (Lev. 20:13) since they suspend other teachings of the Old Testament like the prohibition on eating pork. A blogger who professes to think "critically," writes about several forbidden OT precepts Christians practice today by tagging the post with "hypocrisy."

THREE VARIETIES OF OLD TESTAMENT PRECEPTS
However, these accusations are faulty. Here's why. Old Testament precepts often varied with regard to the permanence of their character. As commonly classed, there are three different varieties of OT precepts. St. Thomas Aquinas, writing in the latter 13th century, expounded on these:
We must therefore distinguish three kinds of precept in the Old Law; viz. "moral" precepts, which are dictated by the natural law; "ceremonial" precepts, which are determinations of the Divine worship; and "judicial" precepts, which are determinations of the justice to be maintained among men. (Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 2.a.99.4, ca 1270)
In short, the permanent precepts are the "moral," often compared to the "natural law." And, apart from containing overlap with moral precepts, the ceremonial and judicial precepts are not necessarily permanent.

Those familiar with Scripture can see these distinctions in some familiar stories. In fact, the accusations of "hypocrisy" made by today's skeptics are virtually identical to those made against Christ:
He answered, "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, `Go to Silo'am and wash'; so I went and washed and received my sight." They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know." They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see." Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was a division among them. (John 9:11-16)
You see how the Pharisees make the same argument as today's skeptics, not understanding why Jesus could morally "make clay" and perform a miracle on Sabbath, a day held for rest in the Ten Commandments, no less! (Ex. 20:8-11) The teaching of resting specifically on Saturday is not a teaching of the "natural law," it is, rather, a teaching of the ceremonial law, i.e. the day especially reserved in the OT for divine worship. Such a precept does not have the inherent permanent quality as would a moral teaching discernible from the natural law.

So, for instance, Jesus affirms other of the Ten Commandments explicitly:  
And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt. 19:8-9)
These teachings are part of the natural law. They are discernible by the light of human reason. The late theologian Fr. John Hardon described this discernment thusly:
It is therefore called natural law because everyone is subject to it from birth (natio), because it contains only those duties which are derivable from human nature itself, and because, absolutely speaking, its essentials can be grasped by the unaided light of human reason. (Fr. John Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary, "Natural Law")
And, finally, the Catechism has a section on the natural law from CCC#1954-1960. Here is an excerpt:
The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties. ... The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history. (CCC#1956, 1958)
Reason tells us a person is rightly due life. Through the human experience, we can therefore recognize that murder is an immoral violation. Man did not suddenly become accountable to the teaching of murder only when the Ten Commandments were issued. In the OT, even Cain was held accountable for murder long before the Ten Commandments (Gen. 4:8-14). Stealing likewise violates a person's right to due belongings. Adultery is also recognizable as an offense to the idea of the marriage bond. Jesus upheld such natural laws while not insisting upon the Sabbath ceremonial laws, even though all are included in the Ten Commandments. Shall today's skeptic encounter Jesus and accuse him of hypocrisy for upholding certain OT precepts while suspending others?

Elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul specifically distinguishes the reality of the natural law regardless of whether it appears in the OT:
When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom. 2:14-16)
This phrase "written on their hearts" is often cited as a description of the natural law Paul references here. With reason, we can recognize certain laws "by nature." (v.14)

Let's look at a modern analogy to help clarify.

MODERN ANALOGY
Let's say there are parents who teach their children the following "precepts."
  • Don't steal
  • Be in bed by 8 pm
Both are precepts for the children, but only one of them is a life-long moral obligation. Not to steal is a principle of the natural law. It is a violation against human dignity recognizable in the very lining of human experience. Even the most skeptical, atheistic person will cry foul if you steal his wallet. In saying this, the skeptic is appealing to the natural law. He recognizes that a person is capable of claiming ownership to belongings, and that it is to violate a person to steal his belongings. The concept is reasonably derivable without a higher authority explicitly articulating it.


Being awake past 8pm is not in and of itself immoral. The rule is given to achieve other advantageous results for the children, such as obedience, self-discipline, good rest for taking on the next day, etc. There's nothing about being awake at 8:30 p.m. that inherently violates one's humanity.

Hence, we can better understand why all the precepts in the Old Testament are not mandatory to today's Christian. Something like the marital law is naturally evident in the complementarity of the genders. It's not revocable because it is written in the very fiber of humanity. Something like murder is a violation of the life proper to other persons. The Church could not declare void the immorality of murder by arguing that all OT precepts are void. Natural laws would still apply because they transcend OT law.

NATURAL LAW: COMPARING PHYSICAL SICKNESS TO MORAL SICKNESS
Perhaps another analogy can help with the term "natural law." Sometimes, when we hear the term "nature" in this context, we think "occurring in nature." That is not the case. By natural law is meant proper to the nature of the subject in question. A person is naturally due his belongings. Hence, stealing is a moral violation of that proper nature.

I like to compare the idea of moral "health" to physical "health." Scripture does this repeatedly. For example, when the Pharisees asked Jesus why he associated with sinners, Jesus replied, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." (Luke 5:31) Spiritual health is comparable to physical health.


To recognize the sense in which the term "natural" is meant in the natural law, we can ask how do we determine that someone is sick or wounded? In order to do that, we necessarily must have an idea of what a properly healthy body is. We know that a healthy human arm is covered by intact skin. If that arm gets scraped by a sharp rock, that skin might incur a cut. We recognize that the bleeding should be stopped. A healthy arm does not bleed. Even after that, we recognize that it is healthy to treat the wound to prevent infection, which is also not ordered toward a healthy body. We might even apply ointment to prevent scarring. Such response is to restore the body to its proper order. If we do not know what the body's proper order is, we could not even identify what qualifies as a wound.


In the same way, we cannot call something immoral unless we have an idea of what a properly ordered person is. A properly ordered person is able to pursue life, is due his/her belongings, is defiled if sold against his/her will into slavery, etc. This is likewise where the Church would appeal to the proper use of the sexual faculties only within the context of a marriage because of the spousal, giving, fertile meaning of the body. Deviations from using the sexual faculties in this context are naturally identifiable as immoral. Like slavery, murder, or thievery, they violate human dignity.

Even a person who rejects the Church's view on any such issues must at least confront the discussion at this level of natural law. To make a case for spiritual health, one must successfully reason what is proper to a human being, just as one measures physical health by knowing what is proper to a human being. The dialogue must take place in this arena. Arguments otherwise often degenerate into basic fallacies of argument, such as appeals to emotion, appeals to modernism, or the like.

SO IF PORK ISN'T AGAINST THE NATURAL LAW, WHY WAS IT FORBIDDEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?
We have established here the varied types of "laws" in the Old Testament, which include permanent laws reflecting the "natural law," as well as ceremonial or judicial laws, which are not necessarily permanent to the human condition. The skeptic's next question undoubtedly asks what purpose a "ceremonial law," such as the prohibition on eating pork, would therefore serve in the OT, if it is not a law always applying to human beings. One could likely generate several good answers to this question, since Biblical truth is not always exhausted once one sound interpretation is attained. Nevertheless, here is one explanation.

It is critical to understand the principle of "divine accommodation" that permeates the condition of the ancient Jewish people. The theologian Dr. Scott Hahn expounds on this principle in this way:
[If] you’re inclined more towards earthly things than heavenly, God will use earthly things and invest them with heavenly symbolism, so that people will love these earthly things and discover in the objects they love a deeper heavenly meaning... (Dr. Scott Hahn, lecture for Theological Foundations course, 1999)
A PDF study guide from scotthahn.com similarly says:
Divine accommodation refers to God’s fatherly condescension and how He first gives us what we want in order to then give us what we need. As loving Father, He stoops down to our level and speaks to us using natural earthly means (chiefly in the Old Testament), but then calls us to Himself and gives us through the sacraments the supernatural means to share in His divine nature through self-denial and sacrificial love.
In his famous work City of God, St. Augustine writes:
The education of the human race, represented by the people of God, has advanced, like that of an individual, through certain epochs, or, as it were, ages, so that it might gradually rise from earthly to heavenly things, and from the visible to the invisible. This object was kept so clearly in view, that, even in the period when temporal rewards were promised, the one God was presented as the object of worship, that men might not acknowledge any other than the true Creator and Lord of the spirit, even in connection with the earthly blessings of this transitory life. ...  It was best, therefore, that the soul of man, which was still weakly desiring earthly things, should be accustomed to seek from God alone even these petty temporal boons, and the earthly necessaries of this transitory life, which are contemptible in comparison with eternal blessings, in order that the desire even of these things might not draw it aside from the worship of Him, to whom we come by despising and forsaking such things. (St. Augustine, City of God, 10.14, ca 420)
You see the basic principle of divine accommodation at work here: God uses earthly things, graspable to humans, to lead them to Himself. So, for example, gold, recognized by the Jews as precious, came to help them recognize that which was holy. God instructed Moses to forge the Ark of the Covenant, the place of His presence, with a structure of gold (cf. Ex. 25). Getting back to our concept of natural law, there is nothing inherent to gold that makes it a "holy" metal. But through the command to use gold, that audience more fully understood something holy must go within the Ark. They understood gold as that which was precious and pure. Purified precious metals were even used often to denote holiness (cf. Job 23:10, Ps. 12:6, etc.)

Now, let's return to the concept of pork. Why does Leviticus declare a pig "unclean"? What about killing and eating a pig would have significance to an ancient Jew? For one, they recognized the pig as a worshiping instrument to false gods.
Sometimes the uncleanliness of an animal has to do with how neighbouring peoples regarded that animal (they may have made it an object of worship or reserved it as something untouchable in honour of a god: the pig, for example, was used for sacrifices to the Babylonian god Tammuz. (The Navarre Bible: Pentateuch, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, 1999, p. 454)
From the ancient Jewish perspective, the swine had significance as something contrary to the one and true God.

Perhaps another example could help the modern ear. Consider the swastika symbol, known to modern Westerners as the symbol for Nazism. For this reason, it is considered offensive and banned in many places, including Germany. However, prior to World War II, especially in the East, this symbol often represented well-being or good fortune, even used in advertising. Is there anything inherent to the symbol that makes it evil? No. There is no "natural law" appeal against such an arrangement of right angles. Nonetheless, to certain cultures, its banishment has more significance than others.

In the same way, the prohibition on swine to the Jews would turn their focus toward God, since, in that culture, they understood the animal as unclean, something pagans used for sacrifices to false idols. Likewise, the concept of "uncleanliness," leads toward the New Testament where uncleanliness is associated with sin. Jesus expounds on this concept with the Pharisees, who, again, clung to ceremonial law when they were prompted to recognize the natural law to which it pointed:
While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." (Luke 11:37-41)
You see, again, the Pharisees concern themselves with the OT ritual. Jesus explains to them the typological truth behind those precepts. For instance, ritual "cleanliness" corresponds to spiritual cleanliness. Note that he refers to almsgiving as something that truly makes one "clean." If we read the OT precepts in light of the principle of divine accommodation, we can recognize that OT  precepts about "cleanliness" were ordered to guide a certain "epoch" of mankind, as Augustine says. These precepts directed their focus to be clean as God would have them be clean. At that stage in history, they were able to digest a visible, ceremonial cleanliness, which prepared them to the invisible, spiritual cleanliness of which Christ spoke.

And so, today, in this different epoch of human history, standing on the shoulders of those ancient precepts, we can see that one of the reasons for the prohibition on pork was to order man toward God, and to strive for holy "cleanliness." In light of Christ's fulfillment of Old Testament law, we convert the principle behind the prohibition on pork to one that teaches us to avoid sin. There is nothing specific about eating a pig versus, say, a fish, that would violate the natural law.

Hence, there is no inconsistency in the modern Christian who both upholds the moral laws of the Old Testament while not necessarily upholding some of the ceremonial or juridical laws.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Difficult questions modern Catholics face

I spoke at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Naperville, IL on Feb. 25, 2014 on the subject of difficult questions modern Catholics face. Topics included suffering, hell, marriage, contraception, abortion.

Right-click here to download an MP3 of the talk. (40:21 minutes)



Monday, December 23, 2013

4 ways pre-marital sex is harmful

The Marriage Feast at Cana by Juan de Flandes, 1500 (acquired from Wikimedia Commons)

There are many resources demonstrating the various harms that pre-marital sexual activity often induces. This post is intended to collect a few. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

1. CAUSES MORAL HARM
All other harms of extra-marital sex should be supplementary to the moral harm done. The moral detriment to the individual can never be altered by any future technology or medicine. To recognize the moral quality of the sexual act, one not even need to be overtly religious, although, certainly Jesus Christ spoke to the proper order of marriage between the "male and female" and as it was "in the beginning" (i.e. Adam and Eve). (Matt. 19:4,8)1

But as was discussed in a prior post, What did the Church teach about marriage, men and women in 1880?, the very nature of the human body supports the idea that one man and woman belong together in the sexual order. One example is that a female egg naturally closes itself to receiving sperm from more than one father.

This is further fortified when we recognize the body's release of certain chemicals, which will be further addressed below, that tend toward attachment or even "addiction" to the recipient of a person's sexual attention. In other words, the body itself wants to move toward monogamous permanence when engaged in sexual activity.

These kinds of things are what belong to the natural law. For example, if someone came up to you and punched you for no reason, you would would rightly cry foul, that it was a violation of some kind to be struck unjustly. If you were at a restaurant and laid your wallet on the table for a moment and someone snatched it, you would rightly cry foul, as they took something that belonged to you. These examples speak to the sensibilities we have that human beings possess certain dignity and that it is morally wrong to violate that dignity.

In the same way, the various signposts of sexual activity toward committed, one-man, one-woman relationships communicate proper use of our human gifts, including our sexual faculties. Outside that committed relationship, persons engaged in sexual activity violate their own humanity and that of anyone else involved in the activity, whether or not they "feel" violated at that moment.

As I said, one needn't even be "religious" to draw such conclusions. But, certainly, if Jesus Christ is truly God, rose from the dead as witnesses attest, and taught his disciples about eternity for those living in accord with his teaching and damnation for those opposed, then the issue of proper sexuality is paramount.

2. COMPROMISES JUDGMENT
As stated above and in a prior post, during sexual activity, various chemicals are released by the body, such as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endorphins, which cause attachment to the recipient of sexual attention.

A clear example of this, even in secular studies, is seen when examining pornographic addictions. When someone is looking at pornography, the chemical releases present tend toward attaching that person to physical imagery. This is one of the great harms of porn addiction, that it compromises a person's ability to see the beauty in a real person beyond the surface.

In a similar way, when these chemicals are released in the body outside of a committed relationship, the involved persons will tend toward that other person due to the physical bond they have exchanged. However, when those individuals move toward a decision for or against marriage with their partner, they may well make a decision induced more by chemicals rather than an objective analysis of their compatibility. This is not to say no couple that engaged in pre-marital sex could have a lasting, monogamous, or happy marriage. The point is rather to say how that potential is compromised by pre-marital sex.

The data supporting this is plenty. For example:
Dissolution rates are substantially higher among those who initiate sexual activity before marriage...and who cohabitated before marriage.2 
[M]arriages formed after cohabitation are rated as less stable and result in more divorces than marriages not preceded by living together. Cohabitation thus "does not seem to serve very well the function of a trial marriage... (Popenoe, 1993)."3
After marriage it was about 3.3 times more likely that a woman who had cohabited would have a secondary sex partner. ... If a woman has a previous history of multiple sex partners, the likelihood of her having a secondary sex partner during her current relationship greatly increases. This is particularly true for married women.4
Study results also indicate that out of divorced women, 81.8% had engaged in pre-marital sex as opposed to 17.8% who remained abstinent and did not cohabitate.5 Studies also indicate that once the number of sexual partners a person has exceeds one, so does the risk for marital failure.6 Divorces can be a detriment not only to the couple, but to any children who may suffer the consequences of the dissolution.

You can see the pattern here that the virgin bride and groom have the statistically and significantly superior advantage for a successful marriage. Reason alone communicates that this is so because the virgin bride and groom have not developed those physical attachments to another person that could otherwise cloud their appraisal of a lasting mate. To boot, there are numerous testimonials and studies indicating that sexual activity is more fulfilling when exercised in marriage alone.

3. PREVENTS DISEASE
It does not take a great intellectual leap to realize that sexually transmitted diseases (or infections; i.e. STIs) are significantly reduced in persons who are abstinent. They are likewise reduced in a permanently monogamous relationship, i.e. marriage. As the Mayo Clinic puts it, "The more people you have sexual contact with, the greater your overall exposure risks."

Secular culture responds to this with the promotion of various contraceptives. However, this "solution" does not only not always solve the STI problem, but can perpetuate and even foster the other chemical and moral problems described. Contraceptives also instill a mentality toward the sexual partner that tend to objectify that person. A man who is closed to conception with a woman and contracepts with her will view her differently than if he had to consider her as a mother and a partner with whom to raise a child. One tends toward objectification, the other considers her more completely. (For resources on contraceptive information and on child regulation in accord with Catholic teaching, see some of the resources below.)

4. HARMS SOCIETY
In reviewing all of the above detriments of pre-marital sexual activity, we can see how this would harm society at large. Working our way back up the list, if extra-marital sexual activity contributes to the spread of STIs, persons facilitating or engaging in that behavior are contributing to that spread. And a variety of STIs are currently on the rise despite all the medical remedies and solutions which foster promiscuity.

As well, if greater pre-marital sexual activity clouds one's judgment toward identifying a marriage partner, then those persons have in some way contributed to the normalization of that behavior, and hence, the resulting marriage failures and STIs.

And finally, the moral decay resulting in the spread of pre-marital sexual behavior, supported by the emotional and physical data, literally de-humanizes us. That is one reason why proponents of abstinence before marriage invite everyone to embrace the beauty of reserving the sexual faculties for the marriage bed. The more individuals who embrace sexuality exclusive to marriage grows the pool of available mates with that disposition, and in turn, will result in more solid marriages. Such a movement could also help current practitioners of abstinence, who have the call and self-giving disposition to serve a spouse, in finding a suitable mate they may otherwise have difficulty finding.

CLOSING
Those who may not have practiced abstinence outside of marriage should not be discouraged by the data. It's never too late to practice a moral virtue. Such persons could be considered particular kinds of heroes of society, along side those who already practice abstinence, by embracing a virtue against what the pressures of a sexually addicted society might impose. See also the previous post, On Reconciliation: Can virginity be restored?

Even if such a person has already married, it is never to late to encourage others to practice proper use of the sexual faculties, teaching their children or others. Plus, simply learning about humanity can help married couples "see" each other for the unique beauty instilled in each other, and the unique value and societal pillar extant in the stable foundation of a family.

OTHER RESOURCES
Effects of Cohabitation Research Summary
Premarital sex and greater risk of divorce
What does the Church teach about Birth Control?
The Harms of Contraception
What a Woman Should Know about Contraceptives


1Some writers and commentators like to talk about a confusing message in the Bible, going so far as to say the Bible endorses polygamy or divorce. Yet there is are no such passages making such moral definitions. Typically, those who claim the Bible supports polygamy will point to examples of characters in Scripture practicing it and interpret that as a moral endorsement, which does not automatically follow. This is especially so when one realizes that the events and figures of the Old Testament are often an inferior form to that which is to come in the New Testament. This is basic Christian typology. Something in the OT reflecting the natural law, like thou shall not kill, remains in the moral order. The behavior of any individual may or may not be proper.
2(Heaton, Tim B., Factors Contributing to Increasing Marital Stability in the United States, Brigham Young University, 2002) 
3 (Smith, Tom W. American Sexual Behavior: Trends, Socio-Demographic Differences, and Risk Behavior. National Opinion Research Center University of Chicago. March 2006)
4(Forste, Renata and Tanfer, Koray. Sexual Exclusivity Among Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Women. Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 58, No. 1. (Feb. 1996) p. 43, 46)
5Teachman, Jay. Premarital Sex, Premarital Cohabitation, And the Risk of Subsequent Marital Dissolution Among Women. Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (May 2003): 444–455
6The National Survey of Family Growth. 1995. Cited at The Wintery Knight.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Reconciliation: Can virginity be restored?

THE QUESTION
Sometime during listening to Catholic radio archives discussing families, college kids, and the issues of the day, I thought it worthwhile to take a theological look at the question: Can virginity be restored?

Here's the short answer: If given in marriage, no. If given outside of marriage, yes.

Now, an event in history cannot be changed. But in the context of this analysis, the physical actions are not the ultimate focus. In Catholic teaching, the sexual faculties and the giving of the self in that way to another is something which belongs within the institution of marriage. From the Catechism:
Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. (CCC#2360) The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude. (CCC#2362) [S]pouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God. (CCC#2367)
The sacrament of marriage is seen as the image of Christ as bridegroom wedded to his only bride, the Church (Theology of the Body 91, et al).

In other words, the gifts of our gender and sexuality are properly exercised within marriage. In so doing, the spouses express gratitude to the Creator who gave the gifts. Thus, virginity given in marriage does not cause any spiritual damage to the involved spouses. Such giving of virginity cannot be "repaired" or "restored" because no damage occurred in its giving.

The loss of virginity outside of marriage is a different story. Because it involves the use of the sexual faculties in a way reserved for marriage, damage is caused to the soul. Sin takes place. It is in this sense that the virginity lost can be restored. And it is only this sense that is of ultimate consequence.

This involves the heart of the Gospel message:
The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God's mercy to sinners. The angel announced to Joseph: "You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (CCC#1846)
In his earthly ministry, Christ breathed on the Apostles and said, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (John 20:23) Many Catholic apologetic articles can be found on this subject (e.g. here or here), but suffice it to say, this is an important passage in understanding that Christ installed the sacrament of reconciliation (aka penance, confession). Christ exercises his forgiveness through the priest.

So the crux of this essay is this: The giving of virginity in a sinful way causes damage that can be repaired by Jesus Christ who gave the Church the healing sacrament of reconciliation.

Think of what happens when someone incurs an injury, say a broken bone. Doctors can reset this bone such that it heals and restores the bone to its original status and strength. Sin likewise causes damage to the soul. It is Christ who repairs this damage.

Healing of the Paralytic, Codex Egberti

ANALOGY OF THE HEALING OF THE PARALYTIC
The figure of physical healing as the sign of spiritual healing is evident in Scripture. For example, in Mark 2, there is the story of the paralytic lowered through the ceiling. Jesus tells the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." The scribes there are disturbed and question who but God can forgive sins. Jesus then gives them the physical sign that he has the power to forgive sins which cannot be seen with the eyes. He says to the scribes, "But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" and then he says to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." The paralytic rises and walks.

Jesus juxtaposes the physical healing with the forgiveness of sins. Christ removed the man's physical affliction so that the audience would believe he removed the man's spiritual affliction. This is why if one illicitly loses one's virginity, one should know that this can be restored by Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Here are a couple more Church references demonstrating this teaching:
The whole power of the sacrament of [reconciliation] consists in restoring us to God's grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship. (CCC#1468)

[W]ell may those sinners who have stained the white robe of their sacred baptism fear the just punishments of God. Their remedy is "to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb"—to restore themselves to their former splendor in the sacrament of Penance. (Pope John XXIII, Paenitentiam Agere, 14)
And so, the Church, operating by the power of Christ, offers those authentically approaching the sacrament of reconciliation true healing of their sin, be it a loss of virginity outside of marriage or any sin. A soul can be restored to a newness, a "former splendor," as if the sin had never occurred. In the spiritual sense, which is the only one of eternal consequence, the soul having sinfully forfeited his or her virginity has recovered grace lost. The damage is repaired. As in the story of the paralytic, the affliction on the person is removed. Gone. The the true penitent receiving the sacrament is united to God destined to dine at the eternal banquet in heaven.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Psychology of a Pedophile

We have seen over the years various responses to the Church's pedophila abuse scandal, which largely broke in the media in 2002. These have included greater scrutiny and openness among bishops and clergy with regards to reporting, stricter sanctions, the implementation of various third party investigations, and even calls from dissenting Church affiliates for married priests or women priests or a shakeup of Church sexual teaching. There are valid responses to these issues, whether they be implementation, rebuttal, or explanation of the truth of Church doctrine on faith and morals (see for example 10 Myths About Priestly Pedophilia from Crisis Magazine or anything by Philip Lawler on the matter (see CatholicCulture or his book The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture).

For the purposes of this post, I'd like to draw attention to a dimension of the matter perhaps forgotten, unknown, or ignored.

THE PATTERN
In 2004, the U.S. Department of Education commissioned Professor Charol Shakeshaft, on staff with Hofstra University and Virginia Commonwealth University, conducted a study revealing widespread child sexual abuse statistics among the nation's educators and school staff.  Citing several different researchers, the study states:
As a group, these studies present a wide range of estimates of the percentage of U.S. students subject to sexual misconduct by school staff and vary from 3.7 to 50.3 percent.   Because of its carefully drawn sample and survey methodology, the AAUW [American Association of University Women] report that nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career presents the most accurate data available at this time.
Last year, the high profile case of Jerry Sandusky, arrested for sexual molestation, centered around the non-profit he founded––The Second Mile, a charity ministering to at-risk youth.

Also last year, the Boy Scouts of America released 20 years of data regarding sexual abuse occurring within its boundaries. Studies regarding the Girl Scouts are hard to find, although it is, unfortunately, easy to find cases of abuse occurring by Girl Scout leaders in only a few minutes of searching.

A characteristic common to persons in these professions––priests, educators, youth volunteers, scout leaders, or related professions––is their proximity to children in the very line of work.

ADMISSION OF A CONVICTED PEDOPHILE
Not long after the 2002 Church scandal broke, I came across the August 2003 issue of Psychology Today. In that issue is an article called The Mind of a Child Molester (PDF here).


The first-person confession is adapted from the book Conversations With a Pedophile by Amy Hammel-Zabin. The perpetrator, referenced only as the imprisoned "Alan X," describes the temptation toward molesting other boys even when he was very young himself. In his teen years, he eyed a 10 year old neighbor. In order to gain access to the boy, he volunteered to mow the neighbor's lawn and worked his way to baby-sitting. Aware of the disorder, Alan admits:
After high school I joined the military for a couple of years in the hopes I could alter my path away from pedophilia.
Notice when Alan desired to act out his disorder, he worked his way toward the place where he could find a victim. When he tried to avoid his disorder, he went toward a place where he could not access his preferred victims. Soon after, he returned to his deviance and returned from the military. He writes:
One of the first things I did in my efforts to get established was to associate myself with a local church, one that, of course, sponsored a small Boy Scouts troop. Two months after I joined...[t]he elders asked me to take over [as scoutmaster], and I declined. I desperately wanted to once again be in a position where I was surrounded by young boys but I did not want to take that step until I had the entire congregation convinced that I was doing this with extreme reluctance.
Alan proceeded to build trust among victims and subsequently abused them.

One thing pertinent in this account is the perpetrator's deviance was not borne of his association with the church or the Boy Scouts. Rather, his disorder existed prior to joining those organizations. He brought the disorder to the venue in which he could live out his disorder. And he faked various attitudes to give the impression of his sincerity. He pretended to be a legitimate scout master, when in fact, his motive was ill-rooted.

BEING ALERT TO THE PHENOMENON
The ministerial priesthood, education, youth volunteer groups, scouts, and other related groups fit the desired profile for such a disordered pedophile. Thus, those whom criticize such organizations as themselves the cause for the disorder may be well off the mark, such as in the case of Alan X.

This seems to be an extension of the psychological condition of a wish fulfillment, medically defined thusly: "In psychoanalytic theory, the satisfaction of a desire, need, or impulse through a dream or other exercise of the imagination." However, in the case of some deviants, the satisfaction of the disorder goes beyond the imagination, and into reality, as in the above case study.

Several years ago, the Church moved to implement psychological screening for pedophilia in seminaries. The Church, and the other organizations, should at least be aware of how they might be viewed by a potential pedophile, how they might be viewed as utilitarian for a perpetrator's disorder. Being alert to this phenomenon, and working with psychological professionals, could prove beneficial in preventing abuse and helping those with the disorder.